Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Vote YES on Metro Charter Amendment # 1

Vote YES, for Ratification of Metro Nashville Charter Amendment # 1 on the November 7 ballot.

Thanks to Everyone who worked so hard on the petition drive. We got it on the ballot and now we have to take the next step and tell everyone to Vote YES on Metro Charter Amendment #1. When passed this amendment will require voter approval of property tax rate increases.

HERE is a one page PDF flyer you can print, copy, and handout to friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anybody else who is a voter in Metro Nashville/Davidson County.

HERE is a PDF copy of the petition with the text of the amendment. HERE is a summary of why we feel so strongly about passing this amendment. HERE and HERE are press releases with supporting info. HERE and HERE are TV news reports.

Note: Blogging for the next week or so on TaxingTennessee.com will be lite.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

African President: We want Trade, not handouts

Link
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. President, many talk about what Europe and the world can or should do to help Africa, especially with illegal immigrants making headlines in their struggle to reach Europe. But surely Africa has something to offer Europe?

President Abdoulaye Wade: Europe would benefit greatly from turning more to Africa. The world is evolving such that the upcoming big powers will be the US, China, India, and possibly Brazil. Europe is not one of the major powers. And Africa even less so of course. But Africa has what Europe lacks: space, human resources, and natural resources while Europe has the technological innovation that Africa lacks. Together we can become a power which can count in the future. I'm not interested in being sentimental about Africa. I'm an economist and I am here because Germany has a role to play economically and financially. The discussions I had in Berlin show that we have a lot in common

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you need from Europe?

Wade: We are ready to accept precise forms of help. I don't want money, and I don't want hand-outs. I want trade agreements with European firms who will come to Senegal and work with African firms. Anything else is a waste of time.

SCOTUS will decide if union dues=political funds

Election law blog is reporting that the US Supreme Court has decided to hear the Washington state case where the State Supreme Court said that unions do NOT have to seek the permission of members to use dues for political purposes. He speculates that SCOTUS will overturn the Washington ruling:
"My earlier coverage of this decision is here. I expect that the Supreme Court will answer the question presented in the negative, ruling that a state may set up a system whereby nonmembers of unions must affirmatively consent before the union can deduct money for political purposes. I was surprised by the original Washington state supreme court ruling holding that such a system violated the union's first amendment rights, in that it was not as narrowly tailored as an "opt-out" provision (whereby monies for political purposes are automatically deducted unless the nonmember asks that they not be deducted)."

Newsweek, Kaplan both WaPo owned to offer MBA

Yep, the NYTimes is reporting that Newsweek and Kaplan, Inc., the education service provider, both owned by the Washington Post, will offer an online MBA. Competition in education from the WaPo.
"Kaplan accounts for a growing portion of revenue for the Post company, keeping it healthier than many other media enterprises. In 2005, Kaplan provided 40 percent of the company’s operating revenue, up from 34 percent in 2004.

The newsweekly will help Kaplan provide students with case studies of current business topics as well as video and online presentations, chats and interviews. Some material will be published in Newsweek and on its Web site, but some will be reserved exclusively for Kaplan.

Andrew S. Rosen, president of Kaplan University, said the Newsweek material would be reworked for students. “We’ll have someone rewrite it for students, take out the color, and put it into a format so the lessons we want students to draw from it are clear,’’

More fraud by NY companies seeking tax breaks

Link
"These companies, and hundreds more, made themselves appear new at a time when the state was offering to erase property taxes, sales taxes and corporate income taxes for new businesses.

The Empire Zone program was meant to entice new businesses to grow in New York instead of South Carolina or South America. In reality, businesses that make up the very foundation of New York's history were reborn and rewarded with millions of dollars in tax cuts.

The state cut a decade's worth of taxes for some companies even when they cut jobs, business owners acknowledged."

Just in time for Christmas - Duck Vader

Second thoughts on Retroactive Tax abatement

The Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board may reconsider a tax break given to an existing business. There is so much insanity involved here that it is hard to know where to start. This is a business that has already opened its doors. Clearly, the IDB doesn't have to give away the taxpayers money as an incentive to open the business in OR...THEY ARE ALREADY OPEN!! Apparently the fitness business had been encouraged to apply for the $1 million tax break by the Chamber of Commerce but they didn't go to the trouble to apply before the deadline.

Why aren't competitive fitness centers raising holy heck about this?? Why aren't taxpayers raising holy heck about this?? Maybe they are, I certainly hope so.

This incident gives some insight into why Chambers of Commerce across the state have become enthusiastic cheerleaders for local tax increases of all sorts. Apparently, it is old fashioned to open a business with the expectation of profitability. Heck, when the taxpayers will subsidize your business you don't have to worry about making a profit.

Washington County hikes property tax 13 cents

Link
"The original recommendation called for the tax rate to remain the same as last year at $1.87. But some commissioners thought a 13 cent increase, which will be added to the county's debt service fund, would better prepare them to fund a school building program as well as a jail expansion/justice center project in the coming months and years.

In all, the amendment and the new recommendation each passed 17-8.

Voting in favor of the amendment and new recommendation were Commissioners Bob Scott, Pete Speropulos, Paul Woodby, C.B. Kinch, Frank Bolus, Mark Hicks Jr., Jim Powell, Phil McPeak, Wendell Messimer, Ron England, Gerald Sparks, Scott Buckingham, Mark Larkey, Janice White, Ben Bowman, Danny Edens and Pat Wolfe.

Those opposed to the two measures were Sam Humphreys, Peggy Richardson, Sid Campbell, Bill Biles, Richard Matherly, Mark Ferguson, Kyle Shell and Evert Jarrett."

Monday, September 25, 2006

US Senate Set to Bust Budget Caps by $32 Billion

This is just depressing. From Heritage: Senate Set to Bust Budget Caps by $32 Billion
"Federal spending in 2006 is set to rise 9 percent, the largest increase since 1990 and enough to earn Congress near failing grades from the Heritage Foundation’s third quarter report card.[1] Most families facing steep new expenses would cut back on additional spending. However, the Senate is preparing to bust fiscal year (FY) 2007 discretionary spending caps by at least $32 billion"

Trulia.com: New online real estate listing site

One interesting feature is "heat maps" showing price trends and hot areas of town. HERE is the heat map for Nashville.

Amazing Collection of Chinese propaganda Posters

Push for a TN State Income Tax is alive and well

The Center for a Better South is a "progressive" think tank based in Charleston, S.C. that proudly promotes big government solutions and high taxes for Southern states, especially state income taxes. The director is Andy Brack and he has written a number of pro state income tax articles for Tennessee newspapers. HERE is one that appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel this weekend.

If ANYONE says that the Tennessee State Income Tax is a dead issue, they are either being disingenuous or naive about the facts.

Fun site: Make your own seal

Benton Cnty Commission says free speech OK

The Benton County Commission and some past County Mayors have a very troubled past with such basics as free speech for the citizens. They made a little progress last Monday night by revising their public comment rules. Citizens will now be able to speak for three minutes.....hey, it ain't much but its better than nuttin.

A new way to waste time at your computer

Blufr.com

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tennessean article: Constitutionality of Amendment

HERE is today's Tennessean article on opinions about the constitutionality of our proposed Metro Charter Amendment #1. Its a good article which presents lots of good info but I would like to add the following paragraph which comes from the Tennessee Supreme Court decision in March 2006 on term limits which overturned an appeals court decision. This paragraph is the heart of the decision where the court clearly states that the chartered form of county government allows the people to determine how their government is structured. Any reasonable reading of this opinion would indicate our proposed charter amendment is clearly constitutional.
Furthermore, we note that Article I, section 1, of Tennessee’s constitution provides that the people have an “unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.” The constitution is the truest expression of the will of the people, and it is their intent in adopting a constitutional provision that must prevail. See Williams v. Carr, 404 S.W.2d 522, 526 (Tenn. 1966). Accepting the plaintiffs’ position in this case would require us to ignore the fundamental principle of self-government embodied in Article I, section 1. This we are not willing to do. Instead, we continue to adhere to the principle that “the constitution does not mandate a uniform structure of county governments across the state. It specifically authorizes legislation creating different forms of local” government, and the “General Assembly has very broad powers and discretion” in this regard. Leech, 588 S.W.2d at 272. Although the plaintiffs argue that such an approach to Article VII “invites chaos,” we are aware of no evidence to support such a conclusion, and none has been cited to us.

Memphis Freds match Wal-Marts $4 generic price

Fred's will match Wal-Mart in Memphis. Good news for Tennessee healthcare consumers.
Fred's will offer the program in its pharmacies in Memphis, Bartlett, and Millington.

Wal-Mart was the first to announce it's $4 generic plan Thursday. By Friday morning, Target announced it would match Wal-Mart's generic drug prices.

Fred's reduced prices will begin Monday, September 25th. Fred's will offer 300 of the most common generic medicines, used to treat illnesses such as diabetes, colds, infections, asthma, and heart diseases, at $4 per prescription for up to a 30-day supply.

Fred's program will be available to Fred's employees as well as all customers - insured or uninsured.

Personal Finance Blogs

10Q Detective is pleased that he made Kiplinger's magazine list of must read blogs. The other blogs listed are very interesting also. Cramerwatch.org compares the stock picks of CNBC's Jim Cramer with stock pics made by a coin flip, you can probably guess the results.

Stop the politicians before they mess it up

A Professor of Economics from the Univeristy of Memphis says keep the polticians out of choosing winners and losers in business. Don't know this gentlemen but he sure sounds smart to me. He says there is plenty of incentive for entrepreneurs to make money and Memphis should stop the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program where they give away the taxpayers money to a very small number of selected fat cat corporations. These types of breaks are an open invitation to corruption, a waste of time and they divert the politicians from their most important job which is running the government efficiently.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Is privacy dead? On life support at the very least

The release of AOL customer search data is probably the nail in the coffin of personal internet privacy. Although users were only identified by numbers the NYTimes has already identified at least one user and I am sure it would be easy to identify others.

Here is just one site which lists the data from random users (not for the faint of heart.) I am sure there are many others.

Whats HOT in the blogosphere?

Here is one attempt to track developing Blog Memes: www.blogsnow.com/

One definition of "meme": an idea, project, statement or even a question that is posted by one blog and responded to by other blogs. Although the term encompasses much of the natural flow of communication in the Blogosphere, there are active bloggers and blog sites that are dedicated to the creation of memes on a regular basis.

Annexation proceeds despite protests

"In spite of petitions, pleas and a standing room only crowd, most vehemently opposed to the plan, the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday to annex approximately 526 acres of territory west of the current city limits.
The annexation ordinance and plan of services must be approved at two more BMA meetings, with a public hearing to be held in conjunction with the October 10 meeting. In anticipation of an even larger crowd, the October meeting and public hearing will be held at the Rogersville City School."

Friday, September 22, 2006

New IRS data:Top 5% of earners pay 57% of IT

Link

Total income tax share (percentage):
Year Top 1% Top 5%
1986 25.75 42.57
1987 24.81 43.26
1988 27.58 45.62
1989 25.24 43.94
1990 25.13 43.64
1991 24.82 43.38
1992 27.54 45.88
1993 29.01 47.36
1994 28.86 47.52
1995 30.26 48.91
1996 32.31 50.97
1997 33.17 51.87
1998 34.75 53.84
1999 36.18 55.45
2000 37.42 56.47
2001 33.89 53.25
2002 33.71 53.80
2003 34.27 54.36
2004 36.89 57.13

Knoxville can't use taxpayer $ on Convention Center

In 2004 the citizens of Knoxville held a referendum. The question was: Shall we spend taxpayer money on a convention center? The voters answer: NO. So, what is happening NOW? A developer is asking for taxpayer money to build a convention center. You certainly have to give them an A for effort.

Attorney Phil Harber files suit to stop records policy

Story HERE.

The new Loudon County Mayor decided that citizens asking for public records were just too damned pesky so he decided to assess a fee of $25 and required all records requests to be in writing. BOTH of these policies are illegal. Attorney Phil Harber has filed suit on behalf of Loudon County residents to STOP this raw arrogance by someone who is supposed to be a public servant, not a public tyrant. Thank you Phil Harber and clients for standing up!!

Daily Dose of Poltical Corruption

NYTimes article on NJ Legislator paid $35,000/year to "lobby himself."

FBI Raids Cook County Human Resources Office.

Bill to require an ID to Vote: Party Line vote all the way

HERE is the vote. Only 7 Dems and Repubs defected to the other side.

Gallatin Mayor Vetos the Tax Increase

Mayor Don Wright carried through with his veto threat and body slammed the 13 cent property tax increase. The city council had the votes to oveerride when they passed the increase, but will all the votes hold up for the override? If you live in Gallatin and are concerned about the tax increase this is a good time to give the councilpersons a ringy dingy.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Second Life: A Virtual world running on real money

My son just sent me an email about Second Life. It is absolutely amazing and I am just beginning to grasp all its dimensions. It is basically an unlimited virtual world constructed by its residents. It actually has its own currency and an exchange rate with the dollar. The money that people are making in Second Life is most definitely NOT virtual. A Lady in Germany is making $175,000 per year designing virtual homes.

HERE is a fascinating video of a presentation by its creators.

LOTS of YouTube videos about Second Life.

Speaking of Govt surveillance

HERE is the web site of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea where you can see travel videos (click on Windows Media icon), buy inspirational music, and read why Korea isn't unified. Unfortunately, one of the links to their online shop is broken....probably part of some western imperialist plot.

The Next step in Govt surveillance: humiliation

Link
"Council officials in Middlesbrough, north-east England, have fitted loudspeakers to seven CCTV cameras in the town centre that yell at people up to no good.

“It is like a public humiliation in a way, but it means that the person won’t do it again,” Cr Barry Coppinger said. “The voice addresses the person who is littering, for example, directly by saying, ‘Could the person in the green jacket please pick that up’.”

YouTube worth 1.5 bil? nah, more like 2 bil

TechCrunch has an interesting post about the revenue potential of YouTube and a possible sale. YouTube is now serving up more than 100 million videos each DAY.

Beating a fingerprint reading lock the easy way

Speaking of competition, how about believing that you are as good or better than the engineers who designed a fingerprint reading door lock. HT: Red Ferret

Competition: the freedom to believe you are good...

Or to elaborate just a bit:

"Competition" is really just the freedom to believe that you are as good or better than someone else at producing a good or service and because of free markets we ALL benefit from competition.

The New Economist Blog links to a NYT article on how the rest of Asia is catching up to Japanese quality. Great Read.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Capitol Crooks - US News Investigation

Fascinating investigative piece in latest US News on the corporation behind the "Duke" Cunningham scandal:
"A huge spider web." Cunningham "earmarked" millions of dollars in defense projects for Wade and Wilkes in a manner so brazen federal prosecutors called it "unparalleled" in the long, sordid history of congressional corruption. Cunningham now is serving an eight-year prison term, while Wade, 46, has pleaded guilty to paying Cunningham more than $1 million in bribes and is cooperating with prosecutors. Wade's sentencing has been postponed until next March. He faces a maximum prison term of 135 months. He declined to be interviewed for this account, as did his attorneys.

Prosecutors are using information from Melkessetian and his MZM colleagues to test Wade's veracity, to track cash or other assets he may be hiding, and to recommend the length of his prison sentence. The MZM employees have told investigators that they were unaware of Wade's corrupt acts, but as Melkessetian puts it, they suspected he was "up to no good."

Today, the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Defense Security Service are working with prosecutors to put the finishing touches on indictments against several other defense contractors, and senior defense and intelligence officials, who helped Wade with his corrupt activities. "We have been looking at everybody that's involved," says a federal law enforcement official. "Anytime you talk about defense contracting, it's a huge spider web."

Lobbyist Gravy Train

The Washington Post has an excellent article today on what it calls the quiet break for corporations. These are temporary suspensions of tariffs that benefit a specific company or product. This is absolutely nauseating:

"Each legislative season, corporate executives and lobbyists quietly draft hundreds of bills to suspend tariffs. Over time, the changes cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, a Washington Post analysis of U.S. trade data found.

Most of the tariff suspensions involve obscure chemicals and dyes, but many other products show up, including boilers for nuclear reactors, green peanuts, child potty seats, unicycles -- even chocolate coatings for laxatives.

"It's become sort of a lobbyists' dream," said Jim Schollaert, a former State Department trade specialist who now represents domestic manufacturers. "It's a gravy train, and there's little work to it."

The bills in Congress generally give no hint of whom the suspensions have been designed to benefit and sometimes refer to the products only by strings of numbers linked to phone-book-size tariff tables. But many corporate names can be found in reports on the legislation produced for Congress by the U.S. International Trade Commission."

Gallatin Raises PropTaxRate 13 cents

 
Will be interesting to see if Mayor Don Wright carries thru with his threat to veto the increase.

"Nashville voters could be more powerful than ever"

Dennis Ferrier reported on Channel 4 last night about the property tax charter amendment. HERE is the video.

"In less than two months Nashville voters could be more powerful than ever before."

Canada is one of the "tax burden bad boys"

 
"His report concludes this country has the eighth highest overall tax rate on capital investment — the lifeblood of economic growth — among 81 industrialized and developing nations.

It's a particularly dismal statistic for Canada, a country that's seen its global share of foreign direct investment drop in recent years and is struggling to adjust to rising competition from Asian nations."

Heritage Foundation Policy Experts Database

Very thorough online database of conservative/libertarian policy organizations and experts from Heritage Foundation.

Track Congressional Committee Assignments

www.Govtrack.us now has a section on US Congressional Committee Assignments.

Making Judges more accountable: a good thing

Press release, September 19, 2006: "The Judicial Conference of the United States today approved two policies aimed at aiding and enhancing judges' compliance with established ethical obligations. The Conference voted to require all federal courts to use conflict-checking computer software to identify cases in which judges may have a financial conflict of interest and should disqualify themselves. It also approved a new policy requiring greater disclosure by both those who provide privately funded educational programs for judges and the judges who attend such programs."

HT: Be Spacific

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kingsport backing off annexation plans

A raw exercise of power and a money grab...is that all annexation is about?

Why don't Tennessee cities simply start asking prospective new residents very nicely, "would you like to be annexed?" Why do city officials for so many Tennessee cities simply try to force annexation on the unwilling?
"On Aug. 30, 10 residents in Area 1 filed a lawsuit in Kingsport Chancery Court in an effort to stop the annexation. Citizens for Home Rule, a not-for-profit advocacy organization located in Knoxville, assisted the residents in the filing of the lawsuit."

Last minute tax tinkering

Carter County finally decides on a rate.

Bledsoe County considering an 11 cent increase instead of a 34 cent increase.

English only petitions are OK: Ninth Circuit Court

Link
The Ninth Circuit now joins two other circuits in holding that voter-circulated petitions (in this case, recall petitions; in the other cases, initiative petitions) need not be translated into other languages to comply with section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. The majority held, and Judge Reinhardt agreed, that these petitions were not materials "provided by" the state to comply with the VRA.

Dem 08'ers: Don't Repeal Tax Cuts

From Hotline:
At least two Democratic presidential candidates aren't thrilled with the prospect that Dems in Congress might try to repeal the series of income tax cuts associated with President Bush.

A new term: Retroactive Tax Abatement

Now I have heard it all, the City of Oak Ridge is giving a fitness business a tax abatement and the fitness center is already in business. Not even a pretense of new jobs or increased economic activity.

From now on you don't even have to promise new jobs, you just need poltical friends in high places and they get you a "retroactive tax abatement."

Can you imagine the line that will form at the next council meeting.

New Rules for Lobbyists

HERE are new rules for lobbyists which will be considered by the new ethics commission on Oct 31.

Hope short lived, Memphis still going WRONG direction

I saw this headline, "Changes to PILOTs at Hand" and I thought, "aw right", Memphis has finally decided to stop the insanity of giving tax breaks to rich fat cat corporations (when all this really does is transfer the tax burden to homeowners who already have the HIGHEST property tax burden in Tennessee.)

But NO...reading further I find that not only will PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) continue but favored companies will be required to pay $12/hour with benefits.

Sooo.....not only will Memphis continue to have the highest property tax rate in the state, but they are also pricing low skilled workers, those that need help the most, out of the market.

Politicians with good intentions are probably the single most dangerous group of people.

Knox Countians to vote on Pension plan

The Knox County Commission chose to let the voters decide whether or not to fund a pension plan for Sheriff deputies which will probably result in a property tax increase.

PicksPal: Free "Betting" site where only pride is lost

Monday, September 18, 2006

Corporate welfare = Taxpayer ripoff in NY

Politicans in New York gave away $22 million of the taxpayer's money to NRG Energy Company because the company promised to create new jobs. Result: they added one half of one employee.

Here is the article, appropriately titled: Money for Nothing

New Poll in Maine shows 70% support TABOR

Taxpayer Bill of Rights support in Maine: 70%

Best case scenario, all other things remaining the same

Don't worry, be happy: the folks who want us to subsidize their Nashville Convention Center say if everything works out just right, we may get by with only a 20% taxpayer subsidy, best case scenario, all other things remaining the same.

Like most large (in this case, humongous) taxpayer funded projects where there is a large industry (tourist and hotel) trying to get funds from taxpayers to subsidize them, the "studies" performed to justify the project are always "best case scenario, all other things remaining the same." And, of course, the scenario is never "best" and all "other things" never remain the same.

If everything is so rosy then surely the hotel and tourism industry would be HAPPY to assume all the financial risks just like any other private business making an investment. But that is the basic fallacy for all taxpayer subsidies of private business. If it can only be "profitable" by taking money out of the taxpayer's pockets to pay for it then its not really profitable.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

TN Congressional Delegation Voting Records

I was looking at the previous post about Harold Ford's voting record and because of some strange, inexplicable impulse to waste more time I decided to compute the same percentage for all nine Tennessee Congresspersons. Here they are ranked by the percentage of votes where they voted with the Republican Majority over the three year period, 2006 ytd, 2005, and 2004. This is computed for those votes where the majority of Republicans voted differently than the majority of Democrats.

Marsha Blackburn-R 98.60%
William Jenkins-R 95.50%
Zach Wamp-R 93.90%
Jimmy Duncan-R 90.70%
Lincoln Davis-D 33.10%
John Tanner-D 26.60%
Bart Gordon-D 26.40%
Jim Cooper-D 19.30%
Harold Ford Jr-D 14.30%

Parents rebel against "overpriced, low fat rubbish"

From the New Economist blog:

"She said: "I just don't like him (chef brought in to prepare healthy food) and what he stands for. He is forcing our kids to become more picky about their food. Who does he think he is? He can feed whatever he wants to his kids but he should realise that other parents think differently."

Schools have been told to serve healthier menus including at least two servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and no more than two portions of deep-fried food each week."

Young Entrepreneurs

A great story in the Tennessean today about young entrepreneurs and the Professor at Belmont, Jeff Cornwall, who has so much faith in their ability to succeed.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sept Tax Cut, Obama for Pres, Dems against Chafee

Robert Novak's latest Column HT: Club for Growth
TAXES AND POLITICS

Rep. Tom Reynolds, the campaign manager in charge of keeping the Republican majority in the House, gave his approval to a bid by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas to force a tax bill through the September session of Congress.

Reynolds’s opinion is given the highest weight, even more than Speaker Dennis Hastert’s, in the current House Republican leadership meetings. These sessions have concentrated on what might help elect Republicans in November. Reynolds previously had been skeptical about the political value of a pre-election tax measure.

Thomas, in his typical style, has kept quiet on the details of what would be his final tax bill as he ends his congressional career. Not as usual, Thomas has been in contact with the Senate, indicating he means business.

Anger over property taxes big factor in Fla Gov race

Floridians are in a foul mood over rising property taxes, and soon they will elect a new governor. St Petersburg Times Article

Falsified news photos: a collection from CNET


Friday, September 15, 2006

Will Ferrell is an IRS Agent in New Movie

Carter County has only a few days to set tax rate

Like all Tennessee Counties, Carter County must have a property tax rate in place by October. They are still having trouble. I certainly hope they remember this: someone is going to have to cut their budget. If they don't raise taxes then the county government will have to cut its budget. If they DO raise taxes then every taxpaying family in Carter County will have to cut their family budgets in order to pay higher taxes: wonder what it will be?

How many ways does the Govt Track Info on YOU

This is a great Flash presentation, by the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, about the MANY ways that government tracks information on citizens. Clearly, this is WAY OUT of control.

HT: Depth Reporting

$1,000 bounty for YOU just for being a good citizen


The Sunlight Foundation is offering $1,000 to ANYONE who convinces their Congressperson to sign a pledge that they will post their daily schedule on the net.

Earmark Reform WAS a VERY BIG DEAL!

Donald Luskin has some interesting comments from his "anonymous lawyer/lobbyist friend" on the earmark reform rules that passed the House yesterday: He says this was a BIGGER step than most realize:
"Note that Republican Jerry Lewis, the old-timey Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, struggled against his reform-minded Republican colleagues and lost. David Obey, the thin-skinned, corpulent man who might be chairman if the Democrats take over, blows smoke about how this reform kills lobby reform. He's loud but wrong. Earmark reform is a very strong cleaning agent -- if Members can't direct spending to special projects unless they do so in public and with their names attached, then the lobbyists paid to win appropriations will shift what they do and how they do it. They'll either be able to justify the need in public, or they will pursue other work, or they will wither away. That's effective lobby reform, Mr. Obey."

Read the classics by Email!!

DailyLit.com splits classic, public domain novels into bite sized bits and sends them to you by email for free. Great concept....sounds like a good way to serialize new works also.

60% Error rate in tax returns prepared by volunteers

The IRS code is a nightmare of complexity. Why do we allow ourselves to be harassed by this frankenstein created by an army of tax favor seeking lobbyists? The advice given by the IRS itself is wrong a quarter of time.....now we find that well meaning but hopelessly overwhelmed volunteers may be wrong 60% of the time.

Link

"Taxpayers seeking help from volunteer centers be warned: a government
audit shows 60 percent of returns prepared by volunteers may be wrong.
The I-R-S has been moving away from helping taxpayers prepare and file
their returns. Instead, it's been encouraging them to go to volunteer
centers like the ones audited by Treasury inspectors.

The centers assist low- to moderate-income, elderly and disabled
filers. They also help people with limited English skills. While the
I-R-S provides training and some support, the centers are run by
community-based organizations."

Arkansas closer to NO sales tax on food

Arkansas closer to removing sales tax on food....YES!!!
"Glover is the second legislator this year to call for phasing out the tax, and he said a focus on eliminating the tax by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Beebe and Republican Asa Hutchinson shows there's momentum for the proposal.

Beebe has said he wants to phase out the grocery tax over time and Hutchinson has said he wants to eliminate the tax outright.

"I don't think there's any question that it's going to happen this next session, no matter who's in that office," said Glover, D-Carlisle. "It's going to happen. There's no if, ands or buts about it."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

ALL TN House Dems and Repubs Vote for Earmark Reform

HERE is the vote on the Earmark Reform Bill that passed today 245-171 in the House. The five TN House Democrats were among only 45 Democrats who voted for the Earmark Reform Bill. 24 Republicans voted against the bill.

USAToday: Offshore accounts for the middle class

The ease with which almost anyone can move capitol offshore means avoiding income taxes is not just for the rich anymore, even the middle class can play and according to this article, they are getting involved in a big way. People and capital are becoming much more mobile. This is reason 15 gazillion and one to abolish the federal income tax and switch to a national sales tax.

USAToday Article
"A network of brokers, accountants, attorneys and other providers is increasingly promoting offshore trusts and accounts as a way to avoid lawsuits, creditors and, in some cases, federal and local taxes in the USA. Riding the rapid expansion of the Internet, some parts of the mini-industry are making tax-avoidance techniques — once mainly offered to high-net-worth individuals in private conferences — available online to average Americans.

"This growing access to people who aren't wealthy and are willing to pay a $3,000 fee ... to someone to help hide their assets offshore is getting to be a huge problem," says Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., ranking minority member of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which in August released the latest in a series of reports on potential offshore abuses. "Honest taxpayers get socked with the bill" as tax avoiders transfer assets offshore, Levin said."

Memphis Councilman: Rollback Property Taxes

What a concept: Let ALL taxpayers benefit from lower taxes, not just the fatcat corporations and rich sports franchise owners .(where have I heard that before....hmmm, sounds familiar, oh thats right, from that pesky group of "tax cranks", Tennessee Tax Revolt.)

Lets see if I can remember any high school cheers, "Two bits, Four bits, six bits, a dollar, All for Dedrick, stand up and holler....YEA!!!!!"

Link

"Memphis City Councilman Dedrick Brittenum is exploring the feasibility of an across-the-board property tax cut for every homeowner in the City of Memphis.

It could possibly be done, he reasons, if the city pulled the plug on the current tax break program that abates millions of dollars in taxes for select businesses relocating or expanding in the city.

"My question is, can we reduce the tax rate overall that would make it competitive for companies moving here?" Brittenum said. "Is there a threshold where we could reduce taxes so that everybody benefits? Can we reduce it enough and still have enough money to run government?"

Brittenum said he's floated the idea around town and has gotten a welcome response."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My kind of TV commentator

Link

Short, easily readable summary NOT allowed on ballot

We were just informed about this ruling.....very, very strange indeed. This is completely without precedent. More info as we get it. Here is a presser we just issued:


Wednesday September 13, 2006
For Immediate Release:
Committee to Let the People Vote on Property Taxes

State Election Commission overturns a unanimous decision of the Davidson County Election Commission

The Tennessee State Election Commission has overturned a unanimous decision of the Davidson County Election Commission and years of precedent by ruling that a short, easily readable, one sentence summary of a charter amendment may NOT appear on the November Davidson County ballot.

This summary was to be for the Charter Amendment requiring a vote of the people of Davdison County on property tax rate increases. Only the full text of the amendment will appear.

Research by the Committee to Let the People Vote on Property Taxes was unable to find any previous charter amendment which did not have a short, easily readable summary on the ballot.

Ben Cunningham, spokesman for the group said, "Clearly this ruling is unprecedented. I can think of no good reason for such a ruling. Why the State Election Commission chose to overrule the local Davidson County Commission and change the rules now, and for this amendment, is a mystery. Even with this change, which will make finding the amendment on the ballot a bit more difficult, I am confident the people of Davidson County will still overwhelmingly seek out and vote FOR this amendment."

Sales Tax Tokens - The ultimate inconvenience

Bird population control with plastic eggs

Intriguing idea, a town in UK is using plastic eggs to control population of pesky birds.

Weight loss thru a dental insert??

I report, you decide.

Is this a way for dentists to pay their mortgage or a legitimate weight loss device?

Company link HERE.

Figure your body/mass index HERE.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Why do we put up with this insanity???

Dan Meyer in Clarksville makes an excellent point in his accounting blog, Tick Marks.  The IRS continues to get a low C as a grade for accuracy for its tax advice to taxpayers. But what possible incentive could they have to better their performacne when it is the taxpayers who are still liable if the IRS gives them the wrong advice.

This is an insane situation in so many respects. Congress continues to increase exponentially the complexity of the IRS code at the behest of every lobbyist on K street. Citizens and businesses spend more and more time complying with the code (time which could otherwise be used to produce goods and services that actually have value) and we don't even hold the government agency, responsible for collecting the tax, accountable for errors in the advice they give to citizens.

Why do we put up with this insanity???

THEY returned it to the citizens, TN has NOT

Listen to this NPR report on how 20 states returned their revenue surpluses to the the citizens from whence it came....and listen to some politicians complain that the government should have kept the money, implying that government can always spend the money more effectively and wisely than citizens.

Here in Tennessee, state government still has approx $100 million sitting in a bank account that has not been appropriated. This is part of the approx $400 million surplus for fiscal 2005-2006, the remainder has already been spent. The $100 million should be returned to the citizens ASAP in the form of a reduction in the sales tax on food.

$25 fee to inspect records is probably illegal

The KNS is reporting that the new Loudon County Mayor is fed up with citizens wanting to see public records and is instituting a $25 minimum fee in addition to copying charges. This fee is very probably illegal and the citizens of Loudon County should demand an immediate halt to this practice. I am not familiar with the details of the situation and there may well be a small group of disgruntled citizens requesting most of the records as the Mayor claims. This does not mean that the Mayor should react by restricting the very fundamental right of all citizens to inspect public records.

This kind of arrogance by an elected official simply can not be tolerated by the citizens.

Strange campaign sign vandalism in Clarksville

Monday, September 11, 2006

Mayor Daley vetoed big box minimum wage law

Link
"I understand and share a desire to ensure that everyone who works in the city of Chicago earns a decent wage," Daley said in a letter addressed to the council that was filed with the City Clerk's office. "But I do not believe that this ordinance, well intentioned as it may be, would achieve that end.

"Rather, I believe it would drive jobs and businesses from our city, penalizing neighborhoods that need additional economic activity the most," Daley said. "In light of this, I believe it is my duty to veto this ordinance."It was the first time in Daley's 17 years as mayor he exercised his veto power. By law, the mayor had until Wednesday's council meeting to issue his veto."

Hallelujah-Even more access to stuff that WE paid for.

Link

Lets see: the taxpayers paid for the research, should we have access to it? DARN RIGHT

THIS is another bipartisan bill that bloggers should promote!!

A Stock Market for Politics - www.thewsx.com


Update: HERE and HERE are the TN Senate race "stocks."

Say it ain't so, Metro Council!!

The Tennessean is reporting that developers may not build a condo tower next to the new ball park. That, in turn, means less tax revenue:
That would require Metro to take property taxes generated by other properties to help pay for the stadium's construction instead of relying solely on taxes from the new developments by the ballpark. Those other revenues usually would go to schools, police protection and other city services. How much has not been determined.
Which, of course, means that we the taxpayers will pay more. But we were assured all the i's werer dotted and the t's were crossed. A bold prediction: we will hear about more i's undotted. Hey, it could be worse. In Jackson they built a brand new stadium for the Jaxx and now it looks like they will be leaving town...after they clean up all the lawsuits.

The next time the Metro Council says, "have we got a deal for you"....we should all run very fast in the opposite direction.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Gibson Cnty Lowers Property Tax Rate by 3 cents

Long Live the Devolution!! in education

As with representative democracy, ready access to information is changing education. Edspresso links to a post about the continuing revolution in education brought about in large part by increased access to information by parents:
"In the past, a lack of data enabled stagnation. Armchair observations of real-estate agents were often the most sophisticated opinions regarding the quality of local schools. Today, online services like www.greatschools.net provide a mountain of comparative testing and parental review data in a few short clicks.

New technologies and practices, such as self-paced computer-based instruction and data-based merit pay for instructors, hold enormous promise which has only begun to be explored. That said, disadvantaged children in KIPP Academy schools, among others, have achieved phenomenal academic results not with new technologies, but rather with old-fashioned “time on task” hard work and extended school days."

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Long Live the DEVOLUTION!!!

A bold and optimistic prediction: The passage of S.2590, Senator Coburn's bill that requires a searchable database of federal spending, marks the real beginning of the great DEVOLUTION of political power. To be sure there is still far too much power concentrated in Washington but WE the Citizens will soon command the information resources necessary to hold our elected representatives accountable, even those in Washington D.C. With hard work and constant vigilance we, each of us, may be able to claim the title of sovereign citizen.

Long Live the DEVOLUTION!!!

Gotta luv Mayors like this!!

'Nobody's going to get rich on it, but it's a start. It's a few dollars going in your direction rather than in our direction, '' said Burns, speaking at a budget presentation at Sunkist Grove Community Center on Saturday."

North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns talking about his proposed tax cut



"The hi-tech guru now after the city's top political seat launched parts of an aggressive campaign platform yesterday that includes cutting city staff, property taxes and the city's crack pipe program.

O'Brien, who is the founder of Calian, a successful Ottawa hi-tech firm, said city spending has been out of control for the past six years under Mayor Bob Chiarelli, compared to the modest growth the city has experienced in the same time."

Ottawa Mayoral candidate Larry O'Brien

Pork Pecking Order

An excellent article in the Hill about how pork is distributed. Neither party can be piously self righteous about this system, it has been used by both to gain and keep power. Real change will only come from pressure from citizens, politicial power is simply too addictive.

An excerpt:

"The Labor-HHS-Education measure is just one of the House’s dozen annual appropriations bills, but it provides a glimpse into how power and electoral strategy influence the expenditure of public money.

Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula, the bill’s chief draftsman, set aside millions for his northeast Ohio’s Canton-based 16th District. Thirty-nine earmarks totaling $10 million dollars are headed to Regula’s district, nearly 30 percent of the $34 million haul for Ohio. Regula also may have been active in securing money for Democratic Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones’s 11th District in nearby Cleveland, which houses Case Western Reserve University’s National Center for Regenerative Medicine and other institutions important to the region they share.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (Calif.) San Francisco district leads the pack among Democratic earmarks in the bill with a total of $7.9 million in earmarks headed there. But Wisconsin’s David Obey, the top Democrat on the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee, is sending a sizable sum to the northwestern part of his state as well. Obey’s 7th District is in line to receive 23 projects worth $6.8 million.

The 17 districts represented by subcommittee members, Republican and Democratic, would receive at least $65 million, according to the bill analysis, or $3.8 million per district.

Next in line are the vulnerable incumbents in both parties."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Has Harold Ford Jr's Voting record Changed? Maybe

Let me first say that I threw this together quickly and I welcome blog peer review in picking up on data or methodological errors. I am not an excel guru and I welcome email feedback.

I was looking at the WaPo voter database cited in the post below at Harold Ford Jr's voting history and I was wondering if it showed any discernible changes related to an election year.

I put in the last 5 years of HFJr's voting record in a database (you can download my spreadsheet with all data and formulas HERE.) I looked at how many times he votes with the Dems and how many times he votes with Repubs (when the parties vote differently). Here are the results:

Percentage of the votes where
Harold Ford Jr votes with Repubs

2002 - 13.3%
2003 - 11.2%
2004 - 9.5%
2005 - 16.9%
2006 - 16.4%

For 2006 there is a upturn by Qtr

1st Qtr - 11.1%
2nd Qtr - 14.75%
3rd Qtr - 27%

Long term it looks relatively stable but the stat for 3rd Qtr is significantly larger.

Vote database for Harold Ford Jr and TN Delegation

Althought the US House and Senate maintain member voting records online, the Washington Post has an even better searchable vote database with lots of supplementary information. Timely info for the US Senate race.

Ford Voting Record

TN Delegation Voting Record

Email Subject Lines That Get Your E-mail Opened

The "4 U's" copywriting formula -- which stands for urgent, unique, ultraspecific, and useful -- can help.

Source

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Very Cool - Google News Archive Search

Google News Archive Search

Darned ole Wilson Cnty stole our carnival

I just love reading small town TN Newspapers.

What if Politics were like NASCAR?


Was the Detroit Free Press wrong?

In a much touted article the Freep showed a map with declines in income is almost every state from 1999-2005, pretty dramatic stuff. Stuart Buck says they were comparing data from two different sources and makes a pretty compelling case.

Polling firm owner admits to selling bogus poll results

Link

"A federal indictment accuses Tracy Costin of telling her employees to "talk to cats and dogs" while instructing them to make up survey results.

And an F-B-I agent tells the Connecticut Post that half the information supplied to the Bush campaign by DataUSA was falsified."

First Self-contained Artificial Heart approved

Watch the close Races-Good new web site and blog

Nice Mouseover Map of close House races
ConstituentDynamics

PDF summary of close races

Here is the Blog

Special Meeting of Davidson Cnty Election Commission

A Special Meeting of the Davidson County Election Commission has been called for Monday 9-11-06 at 1:30PM to consider the wording that will appear on the November ballot for our property tax Charter Amendment. The meeting will be in the old Howard School Auditorium.

This ought to be very interesting.

Panama Tops Global Retirement Index

Panama Tops Global Retirement Index

Panama has been judged to be the world's best retirement location for the sixth consecutive year by International Living's Global Retirement Index 2006.

Source:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Quote of the Day

"The people who have the biggest passion for restricting other people's behavior are the very people we should worry about most. Unfortunately, they keep running for office."

Source

Virginia Repeals Estate Tax

Tennessee still has an inheritance tax but there is a 100% exemption if you give all your money to any level of government!!

From the Tax Foundation Blog:

"There are many reasons to oppose federal and state estate taxes. One that is sometimes overlooked is the damage an estate or inheritance tax does to a state's competitiveness. Now that 24 states no longer levy estate taxes, states that continue to impose estate or inheritance taxes may have a hard time attracting or keeping retirees and business owners who wish to pass the business on to their children."

Source

Response to Gail Kerr's Tennessean Column

Below is the email I sent to Gail Kerr regarding her Tennessean column about our property tax charter amendment. Gail sent me a very gracious reply and said she would be writing more about the issue.

Gail,

A few comments in response to your column:

1- "Some folks believe a petition-driven November referendum could mean their property taxes will never again be raised without their vote. They are wrong."


You are absolutely correct. In fact, we had a number of people who expressed opposition to our proposed charter amendment because it was too modest. They wanted more of a Prop 13 type of proposal that would freeze tax bills. The proposed amendment is comparable to the method now used to raise the local option sales tax rate, i.e., the revenue from the sales tax increases each year as prices and sales volume increase but in order to increase the rate a referendum must be held to allow voters to say if they are willing and able to bear the burden of a tax RATE increase.

2 - "It sounds gloriously sexy: give the power to the people to decide when the city needs more property taxes. The strongest
argument against it is Democracy 101: We elect people we trust to make decisions like this."

There are three major sources of revenue for local government. They are 1-the property tax, 2-the local option sales tax, and the 3-wheel tax. State law already provides for a referendum for two of these three revenue sources. As stated above, the local option sales tax rate may never be raised without a referendum. There are three methods available to pass a county wheel tax and two of those involve a referendum. (Metro has its own form of wheel tax and thus state law doesn't apply as regards
the wheel tax but my point is that all other counties allow referendums as an option for increasing the wheel tax.) We are simply proposing that the property tax rate in Metro also be subject to a referendum in the same manner that is already allowed for two other major taxes.

3 - "They won't say it, but I will. Frustration leading to this vote bubbled up because Nashville mayors have passed property tax hikes on top of reappraisals. It's kind of a sneaky way to make the tax hike not look so bad, and it's killing people in hot real estate markets. They got hit with a double whammy tax hike."


I would agree in part that the double whammy is part of the frustration but equally important is the tax rate in Davidson County as compared to surrounding counties. Also important is the fact that surrounding counties have reduced rates during re-appraisals whereas Davidson has rasied them. Below is a graph of the county rates over the last 10 years for Davidson (GSD), Sumner, Rutherford, and Williamson (Here is the source for the data):


The trend is very clear, Davidson has increased the rate as values have increased and surrounding counties have kept them stable or lowered them. The Davidson County rate is now more than $1.50 above these three counties as a result of this long term divergence.

As always, thanks for listening.

Ben Cunningham

Open Government Charter Amendment in Pittsburg

Very interesting charter amendment proposed for Pittsburg. It requires new documents to be posted on the Internet and provides a procedure for all old documents to be placed on the internet over time.

First Jackson annexation vote passes in spite of protests

Picture from Jackson Sun

City officials in Jackson are seeing dollar signs and it doesn't look like anything short of a lawsuit will stop them from annexing a large area north of the town. Of course, the city always has the option of allowing a vote by residents that are to be annexed. But that is probably too much like taxation with representation.
"After hearing from a parade of speakers opposed to annexation, the Jackson City Council voted on first reading Tuesday to annex 12 square miles of northwest Madison County."
Source:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mind bending complexity

This is the web page where IRS "written determinations" are listed.
These are Private Letter Rulings, Chief Counsel letters, and Technical
Advice Memoranda requested by taxpayers and IRS field representatives about issues that are unclear or involve special circumstances.

Just a brief look at a few of these rulings gives an extremely troubling glimpse into the mind bending and convoluted complexity of the IRS code. It is, very simply, complexity totally out of control.

France To Abolish Payroll Tax For Low Income Workers

Ironically, in France, where they have a high minimum wage they are trying to reduce the cost, for employers, of hiring low skilled workers while here in the US many are trying to increase the cost of hiring low skilled workers by hiking the minimum wage or implementing a "living wage."  The result, of course, is far fewer employment opportunities here in the US for low skilled workers. But what the hey, our intentions were good.

Eeeet iz uh khrazzy wold we leeeve een (Think French accent).

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tax Cuts in Canada??

Yup...tax cuts in Canada.

Do you prefer a Woman or a Man for a Boss?

Interesting Aug 7-10, 2006 Gallup Poll on Boss Gender Preferences
 
                    Man     Woman     No Difference (vol.)     Unsure
                      %         %              %                             %
ALL adults       37         19             43                             1
Men                34         10             56                             -
Women           40         26             32                             2 
 
Evidence of Bias? We report, you decide.

Gallatin Mayor vows to VETO any tax increase

Article Link
"The property tax debate in Gallatin is heating up to the boiling point with Mayor Don Wright promising to veto a tax increase of any kind.

“If they try to raise property taxes, I will veto it,” Wright said in an exclusive interview with The News Examiner. “I’d rather see (us) tighten our belt.”
What is HE saying????!!!! Is he saying that government should make hard decisions about their budget??? Why...this is heresey!!

What will happen if government has to make some cuts?? The same thing that happens every month with every taxpayer's family budget: You delay or eliminate purchases of low priority items. And what is the result??? You wake up the next day and the sun rises and the birds are singing and life goes on...its called dealing with reality.

One for you and two for me, one for you and two...

The LA Times details all the last minute goodies dispensed by the California leglislature in their final session:

First and foremost they took care of themselves, of course. Here are some of the bills that passed:

SB 145: Would permit officeholders who are not seeking reelection or another post to continue raising campaign cash.

SB 44: Would allow car dealers to hike the fees they charge for document preparation.

AB 2592: Would allow car rental companies to advertise prices that do not include airport concession fees consumers must pay.
"This is so typical of what happens at the last minute," said Robert Fellmeth, executive director of the San Diego-based Center for Public Interest Law. "All sorts of horrible things go sweeping through."

Normally, drafting laws involves several public hearings strung out over many months. But near the end of the session, dozens of "jam jobs" emerge — bills that, by design, are dashed through the Legislature so quickly that even their authors may not know what's hidden in them. Often, they involve goodies for various interest groups."

The unending Tyranny of Good intentions

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity (desire) may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
Wendi Thomas, in her Commercial Appeal column, gives kudos to the Memphis City Council for considering "living wage" legislation which basically establishes a minimum wage of $12.56. What will be the result of this well intended "living wage"? It will make employers even more reluctant to take the risk of hiring low skilled workers because the cost of doing so will be significantly increased.

Liniving wage legislation will dramatically decrease the opportunities for the very people Wendi believes she is helping. Declaring that poor people should have more money is expressing a sentiment we all share and it makes us feel good about ourselves to say it but simply expressing the sentiment does nothing to address the real problem: expanding job opportunities for people with very low job skills and giving them a path out.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Madison Cnty Residents fight Jackson annexation

Picture from Jackson Sun (Click for article)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Polling site: Pollster.com

Here is their graph on Tennessee Senate Race

We (Metro Nashville Taxpayers) dodged a bullet

The Tennessean is reporting that a "task force" (a term which should send chills up the spine of any taxpayer) has decided, for now, the private sector should provide internet broadband service in Davidson County.

This is an ironic result, especially in light of the fact that the Metro Council passed a bill last year that makes it impossible for Metro to privatize services offered by Metro Government.

Friday, September 01, 2006

City of Murfreesboro Invades County - Film at 11

Link

The City of Murfreesboro has not yet legally annexed a large area in Rutherford County but is already forcing city services on residents that don't even want them. And the actual taxpaying residents of the city are paying for services provided to people not even living in the city, a very strange situtation indeed.

“(the lawsuit) clearly does (halt annexation),” said David Buuck, an attorney for the Knoxville-based Citizens for Home Rule, a nonprofit group that opposes forced annexation, who is representing the residents. “It halts the annexation until there is a final determination from the court.”

Buuck said he has filed over 200 lawsuits to halt annexations since the mid-1980s and this is the first time a municipality went forward with annexation anyway.

The city of Murfreesboro won’t explain to The Daily News Journal its reasoning for going forward with annexation.

Robertson said while the city may be extending garbage collection, it is not accepting applications for city business licenses for these residences.

“If they are not taking taxes, but they are providing services, I think the actual residents of Murfreesboro should be angry about that,” he said."
Update: Tennessean Report says Murfreesboro is reconsidering.

911 network broadcast videos

Was talking with the Fam tonight about how unreliable eyewitness accounts are and discussed how interesting it would be to review original network broadcasts of 911 attacks to see how events were interpreted. Went to good ole YouTube and Voila:

ABC Part 1

ABC Part 2 (second plane impacts at 3 mins)
ABC Part 3

ABC Part 4

CBS Part 1
CBS Part 2 (Second plane impact at 3 mins)
CBS Part 3
CBS Part 4


Eminent Domain Victory in Jasper, TN

Story Link: AP - JASPER, Tenn. — A jury sided with two Whitwell men who sued a gas company that used eminent domain to take three-tenths of an acre and paid them $8,000.

It took seven years and a trial for land holding partners John Shelley and James Cooper to get what they consider fair compensation from Marion Natural Gas System.

Eminent domain allows government entities and utilities to seize private property, regardless of whether owners agree that they are fairly compensated.

"We wanted to settle," Shelley said after the $160,000 damage verdict. "We didn't want to go to court."

The Marion County jury awarded the incidental damages for the utility taking the small section of a 27-acre parcel to build a regulation station."